Live Nation exec takes aim at resale sites over antitrust claims

Live Nation executive Dan Wall has taken aim at resale sites he claims are dishonestly attempting to use antitrust arguments “to protect their scalping business”.

The group’s executive vice-president for corporate and regulatory affairs, an antitrust expert, published a blog via Live Nation’s corporate website in which he accused secondary marketplaces of claiming they want to enhance consumer rights by opposing restrictions on the resale of tickets. However, Wall, namechecking the likes of Viagogo, StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats, wrote that “antitrust noise coming from resale sites and their Astroturf advocacy groups” is aimed at ensuring government intervention to keep tickets fully transferable through initiatives such as the ‘Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights’, which was unveiled earlier this year.

Wall said resale sites’ criticisms are a “superficially alluring argument” that resale is fan-to-fan exchange among consumers who purchased a ticket at face value, as a result own it, and should therefore have the freedom to resell it without interference. However, he argued that the vast majority of resale marketplaces’ business is not fan-to-fan resale but rather high-volume professional ticket resellers.

He also rubbished “allocative efficiency” arguments over the alleged positive impact resale can have on the marketplace, and took aim at claims that fans own tickets outright, calling them “revocable licences”.

Wall wrote: “They may call themselves fan-to-fan exchanges, but what actually drives these platforms is a multi-billion dollar industry of ticket scalping.

“And the mother’s milk of that industry is access to tickets, particularly tickets to the most popular shows and sporting events. To the scalpers and the secondary sites that cater to them, anything that restricts transferability is an existential threat, regardless of whether it’s good for the consumer.”

Wall said Ticketmaster estimates that 20-30% of the tickets it puts on sale for popular artists are “improperly diverted” to the secondary market by bots.

He added: “In extreme cases, brokers using bots acquire as many as 90% of the tickets available for a particular event.” Read the full blog here.

Recently, Live Nation Entertainment announced its support for a FAIR Ticketing Act, which calls for the artist to be able to decide resale rules; make speculative ticket selling illegal; expand and enforce The BOTS Act; crack down on resale sites and mandate all-in pricing.

Last week, US Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, and Senator Richard Blumenthal, introduced the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act designed to improve competition within the live event ticketing markets. The legislation would help to restore competition by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to prevent the use of excessively long multi-year contracts that lock out competitors, according to the Senators.

Consumer Federation of America, Fan Freedom, National Consumers League, Protect Ticket Rights and Sports Fans Coalition released its own set of principles called ‘Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights’ earlier this year.

The ‘Bill of Rights’ is based on four pillars including the right to transferability, where ticket-holders decide how to use, sell or give away their tickets if they wish; the right to transparency, which includes all-in pricing and disclosures of relevant information for the purchasing decision; the right to set the price, so that companies that originally sold the tickets cannot dictate to fans for what price they can or cannot resell their purchased tickets and the right to a fair marketplace, where fans compete with actual humans, not illegal software bots for tickets.

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